Come with me into deepest, darkest Wiltshire…
Okay, so that’s being a bit dramatic, but this walk across the edges of Salisbury Plain did feel a bit off the beaten track. It’s a walk between two historic villages, a tale of two churches.
Come on a Wiltshire wander with me.
Codford & St Mary’s.
The walk begins in the village of Codford in the Wylye Valley in Wiltshire.
Today Codford is a quiet place. Rural, keeper of a pretty country church and thatch cottages. The sort of place that might inspire daydreams of long summer days, life on Home Farm and wafting about in 1940’s tea dress with a basket on one arm. Or is that just me?
Star of the show in Codford is St Mary’s church. It’s seen a lot, this old place. If walls could talk.
St Mary’s looks exactly like an English country church should. Lantern over the gate, smart blue clockface up on the tower, pretty little churchyard behind a traditional stone wall. Lovely.
Like something from a cosy Sunday night viewing T.V show. Something like The Father Brown Mysteries or Land Girls.
The lantern turned out to be a tribute to a former village resident,James Charles Fleming, a former sexton and chorister of the church. The plaque placed in his memory carries the quote, ‘ Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works’.
The gate, beauty that it is, doesn’t just welcome people in. It also makes a lovely frame for the thatch topped cottages opposite. That had me of daydreaming again, of villagers past walking up the lane in their Sunday best. Mingling at the church gate for greetings and gossip. There’d definitely be a clucking old matron, probably one who arranged church flowers, who knew all the things about all the people.
That’s just my imagination but St Mary’s has some very real and very poignant history. There is a second church yard, home to Commonwealth War Graves.
During WW1 Codford became a transit camp for thousands of soldiers from Australia and New Zealand. It now has the second largest ANZAC war graves cemetery in the UK. It’s meticulously tended and hosts a remembrance ceremony annually on the 25th April.
The Walking Bit
From St Mary’s, a bit of a walk. Out of the village, across a main and very busy road. Nothing like modern traffic to banish all a girls vintage rural day dreams. Modernity, pfft.
Thankfully the only part of the walk that involved main roads and traffic, the rest of it made up of country lanes and pretty views. Eventually leading to…
Sherrington with The Church of St Cosmas & St Damian.
Right, let’s stick the with the T.V show analogies, shall we?
If Codford was giving warm and fuzzy, St Cosmo & St Damian is more like the sort of place where an innocent dog walker would find a body in the opening scenes of Midsomar Murders. Or the church at the heart of a sinister medieval drama.
The whole place has a bit of a deliciously dark feel to it, further enhanced by a signage on the Church wall firmly warning , ‘ Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it Holy’.
The interior of the little church, much more welcoming. Warm, rustic and beautifully cared for. Quite ornate in parts, with many a carving and adorned walls.
In truth, Sherrington and its long named church are both perfectly lovely. I’ve done a bit of research and there aren’t any dark stories here. Quite the opposite; the church is walker and cyclist welcoming, offering a peaceful place to rest. Dog friendly too.
But there is also a lot of history and that gets the imagination going, doesn’t it? Historians, don’t come at me. I know imaginings aren’t facts. I just like saying, ‘Imagine if…’ and making things up.
In the interest of balance, let’s have some facts. There’s been a simple church on the site since the 1200’s, and the 1300’s saw it dedicated to the Saints Cosmas and Damian. In 1624 there was a complete rebuild, re-using original 14 century features. Interior fittings and artwork have been dated from the 13th to 17th century and all of the above has earned this little place Grade I listed status.
From Sherrington it’s an easy walk, mostly riverside, back to the starting point in Codford.
I discovered this route via All Trails
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